By Katie Bo Williams - 08/27/15 11:53 AM EDT
The Obama administration said Thursday that it killed the top Islamic State in Iraq and Syria hacker Junaid Hussain in a drone strike.
The British-born ISIS recruiter and hacker is considered a high-value target by officials and a key actor in the terror group's Cyber Caliphate.
"This is a serious blow to ISIS and a swift act of justice against a top cyber jihadist and recruiter,” said Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX). “The strike sends an unmistakable message to the terror group's ranks: plot against us, even on social media, and we will find you.”
He is also alleged to have engaged in a private messaging campaign that helped radicalize and inspire one of the gunman involved in a shooting at a contest for drawing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in Garland, Texas, earlier this year.
ISIS terrorists have vowed a cyber crusade against the United States, releasing a video in May announcing an “electronic war.”
Experts say most of the terrorist organization’s current digital power lies in its direct messaging — like Hussain’s alleged appeals to the Garland shooter — rather than its ability to hack computer networks.
Earlier this month, a group claiming to be affiliated with ISIS posted unconfirmed personal information for approximately 1,500 U.S. military and government personnel, calling for lone-wolf attacks on those individuals.
In March, the self-named Islamic State Hacking Division also posted the personal details of 100 U.S. military personnel supposedly involved in attacks on the terrorist group, calling for followers to “kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their streets thinking they are safe.”
Hussain is the second senior ISIS operative killed in as many weeks. Last week, a drone strike killed Haji Mutazz, second-in-command to ISIS head Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.
This story was updated at 2:52 p.m.